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Why Bloggers Should Want Comments on FriendFeed

Blog comments aren’t dead, but FriendFeed comments have emerged as equally valuable. Robert Scoble has a post up now in which he states:

My Tesla post gathered two comments here.

13 comments and 12 “Likes” over on FriendFeed.

Let’s just stick a fork in it. Comments are dead.

I don’t think they’re dead, but I do think he raises a good point. The interaction that occurs on FriendFeed is so much easier and freewheeling than it is on blogs.

Blogs that don’t have a lot of comments can feel like museums (“look, but don’t touch”). It feels like it takes an extra effort to put a comment there, because you can’t really feed off others’ participation.

FriendFeed’s got four things that make it really, really good for commenting:

  1. Wide open nature – anyone can jump in
  2. More lively subscription base – RSS subscribers are great for views, but not for comments. FriendFeed’s interaction nature stokes conversations in a much better way
  3. The barrier to commenting is lower – I commented on Robert’s post about this, and got a message saying my comment was “awaiting moderation”. Not on FriendFeed – where I just typed and clicked “Post”.
  4. FriendFeed’s viral attention features – Likes/Comments cause content to bounce to the top of the screen and friend-of-friend interactions cause people outside your subscription base to see your blog post, generating more views and comments

Keep the blog comments coming, but I’m quite happy to have you comment on FriendFeed too.

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See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Why+Bloggers+Should+Want+Comments+on+FriendFeed%22&public=1

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Breaking the Rules and Still Winning: Twitter’s Je Ne Sais Quoi

When I was in grad school our professor gave us an assignment. Our papers had to be within a set word count. Nearly all of us diligently stayed within that rule, constraining our analysis as best we could. But not one classmate. He blew right through the word count restriction. When the professor discussed our papers the next day, he called out this student’s paper as the best of the lot. We all learned two things that day:

  1. Ignore this professor’s word count restrictions in the future
  2. Rules don’t matter if you create something people love

Twitter is going through its toughest stretch ever right now. Here’s a FriendFeed search on the phrase “twitter is dead to me“. And here’s Steve Isaacs’ thoughts on the current Twitter:

I expect Twitter to be 1) reliable = epic fail. 2) Something more than a simple one way alerting medium = fail 3) to grow and mature like all great web services = also a fail. Am I being too hard, I think not.

Pretty grim, eh?

Well, not so bad. Several big names have recently stated their new interest in FriendFeed in lieu of Twitter. But read these comments closely, and tell me that these guys have really given up on Twitter:

The beautiful thing about Twitter is that spontaneous, diverse conversations erupt that are almost synchronous, or chat like – Michael Arrington, in post praising FriendFeed over Twitter

I’m steering people to FriendFeed, can’t help it. My discussions are happening there. And bonus: It pisses off Steve Gillmor. :-)Dave Winer

Really tired of Replies being broken here. Spending more time in FF, but still subscribing only to close friends over there. – Shel Israel

There are others. These are people who are practically being dragged away from their favorite social media app.

Their words say FriendFeed, but their hearts say Twitter.

And this is what I mean. Let’s look at the rules Twitter has broken.

Rule #1: Build a scalable platform

Well, this is the crux of the current problem, so clearly they messed this one up. Google didn’t mess this one up. Amazon.com didn’t. eBay didn’t. Yahoo didn’t.

Twitter did.

Rule #2: Communicate with your users

For the most part over the last several months, communication has been via the Fail Whale. Not a lot of feedback to the loyal users about the problems. And when features are removed, it doesn’t seem to be communicated correctly.

Dave Winer noted that Twitter’s own employees are not among the power users of Twitter. The shoemaker’s children go barefoot.

Rule #3: Web 2.0 companies actively add features

A hallmark of hosted web 2.0 services is they constantly roll out new features as they get feedback from users.

Not Twitter. They rely on a robust ecosystem of developers to take care of that. Twitter users relied on a member of that ecosystem, Summize.com, while they took down the Replies tab this past week.

Rule #4: Web companies need realistic paths toward profitability

And that generally means advertising. But not Twitter, at least not yet. Profitability shmofitability. But to be fair, when you see YouTube picked up by Google without revenue, and Powerset purchased by Microsoft without revenue, you realize this is a rule that is getting relaxed more and more.

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But Twitter’s Got that Je Ne Sais Quoi

Dave Winer appears to be twittering about as much as he always has. He has also started to engage folks on FriendFeed as well, as a look at his comments there shows. But Twitter got its Replies feature back Saturday, causing Dave to wonder:

Now that Replies are back, we get to find out if our fling with FF is the real thing, or just a summer love.

And here’s a sampling of FriendFeed comments on his tweet:

  • “Twitter is the Cliff Notes of Friendfeed. Quick and easy & you get the gist.”
  • “For me, it’s like friends with benefits and evaporates when my true love returns.”
  • “Twitter is my Best Friend… Friend Feed is my Book Club… there’s more ‘deep conversation’ over here – but I don’t always want every conversation to either be non-existent or terribly deep. Sometimes I just want to twitter like a little bird.”
  • “I like FF – I love Twitter – FF needs to be organized differently, I think – it doesn’t have the right logical setup for me.”
  • “I’m sure people will complain about twitter when it fails to work, but when they manage to kick themselves and make it work, people will flock back”

This comment from Arrington’s FriendFeed-favorable TechCrunch post captures it for me:

I will stick with Twitter for now, because even though about half of my tweets are @ replies, I don’t really use it for _conversation_ per se – more like spontaneous short IM chats that end in <3 tweets and involve 2-3 people. Don’t need an entirely different website to “manage” that.

Twitter’s got that new funding including Jeff Bezos, they’ve got heavyweights rooting for them (e.g. Arrington’s “Twitter!” post) and loyal users who are sticking with them despite the limited functionality.

Twitter also has going for it the same asset that helped AOL through its downtime crisis in the late 1990s. If you were on AOL, you had all your email connections there. Switching costs were high. Same thing applies to Twitter. Social network switching costs are high, a point recently made by Corvida.

Here’s what I predict will happen. The new architecture is built. New features will be added (threading tweets, Seesmic-like video conversations, etc). There will be an avalanche of positive coverage: “Twitter’s Back!” And it will continue its growth trajectory after a 9-month rocky road.

Twitter…breaking all the rules and living to tell about it.

*****

See this post on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Breaking+the+Rules+and+Still+Winning%3A+Twitter%E2%80%99s+Je+Ne+Sais+Quoi%22

Weekly Recap 062708: The FriendFeed Immigration Continues

Twitter’s replies tab has been disabled most of this week, causing a fair amount of consternation…without Replies, it’s hard to maintain asynchronous conversations, or even synchronous ones if you’re conversing with 10,000+ people…

So a few more of the bigger technorati are discovering the merits of FriendFeed…

Michael Arrington: “Friendfeed for most users was just a place to bookmarks all their activities on other social networks. Now, more and more, it’s a place that people start conversations. The early adopters got that a while ago. Now, the not so early adopters are using it as a Twitter replacement, too.”

Dave Winer: “I’m steering people to FriendFeed, can’t help it. My discussions are happening there. And bonus: It pisses off Steve Gillmor. :-)”

Shel Israel: “Really tired of Replies being broken here. Spending more time in FF, but still subscribing only to close friends over there.”

Steve Gillmor: “friendfeed is getting very close to being usable”

Chris Saad: “So is the idea we use friendfeed instead of Twitter? Does that actually work?”

Not bad at all…but we’ll see how long it lasts…collectively, the last four (excluding Arrington) have 18,670 followers, which is hard to match any time soon on FriendFeed…as Corvida noted:

when you get out of one relationship that you’ve put so much time and effort into, do you really feel like going out there, just to find a replacement to try to rebuild what you had with someone else?

Once Twitter rights its ship (in several months), we’ll see how many of the Twitter refugees stick around on FriendFeed…

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Have you heard of the Persian Cam Room on FriendFeed? Join it! Amazing pictures can be found there.

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Amazing pictures can be found there.

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I often see complaints on FriendFeed about too much FriendFeed talk…to which I say, that’s why they provide the Hide function…

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Facebook has added FriendFeed-like functionality, allowing comments on the activity streams of your friends…I’m trying it out a bit, here are a few initial impressions:

  • It’s hard to comment on someone adding the “Hug Me” application
  • Status updates are easier content on which to comments
  • You really get used to the speed with which commenting and accessing new content occurs. Facebook is so painfully slow in comparison
  • I was pleased with the comments I got back after I did my first round of comments. Will continue to play with it.

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Finally, I wanted to note the moves of several solo bloggers into the “big time”

Interestingly enough, Frederic had just the prior week written a post in which he noted:

It’s close to impossible for a solo blogger to make a living in the tech blogosphere.

Now he’s part of the big time…congrats to all!

*****

See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Weekly+Recap+062708%3A+The+FriendFeed+Immigration+Continues%22&public=1

What’s Your Blogging Style? Use FriendFeed Likes/Comments Ratio to Find Out

Julian Baldwin asked a question today on FriendFeed: “Roughly speaking, what is your comment to like ratio here on FriendFeed?” Based on the responses, a  lot of folks are doing more commenting than liking, but I suspect the responses aren’t totally representative. Still you can see a lot of emphasis on commenting.

Which made me wonder about turning this around a bit. Instead of looking at each person’s ratio of Likes to Comments, what could be gleaned from figuring that ratio out for a blog?

I selected several blogs, and totaled the number of Likes and the number of Comments for the last 30 posts of each blog. I then calculated the ratio of Likes to Comments, and mapped the bloggers to roughly one of four blogging styles:

  • Stir it up
  • Can we talk?
  • Observing the scene
  • Stuff you want to know

There are some adjustments and limitations related to this; they follow below. But first, the map of bloggers to blogging styles. To reiterate, the ratios you see below are calculated this way:

# Likes / # Comments = blogging style

So for instance, Dave Winer’s ratio is actually below 1.0. He gets more Comments than Likes. Here’s the map:

As I put this together, the analysis does seem to ring true from my perspective.

Here are the adjustments and limitations:

  • Some bloggers are really active at responding to comments on FriendFeed. This tended to drive their number of Comments up. For instance, Alexander van Elsas could put on a clinic in terms of engaging commenters on FriendFeed. I should be so good. So I gave the number of Comments a haircut for several bloggers.
    • Alexander van Elsas – 33% haircut
    • Myself – 25%
    • Mark Dykeman – 25%
    • J. Phil – 25%
    • Colin Walker – 25%
  • The analysis only applies to the main blog for each person (listed below)
    • No Toluu activity updates
    • No Qik videos
    • No side blogs that augment the main one
    • Etc.
  • Only the blogger’s own feed was used in this analysis. This is imperfect, as it does not include Likes and Comments for other ways thr blog post gets into FriendFeed:Google Reader shares, tweets, direct posts, del.icio.us, etc.
  • Some great new bloggers aren’t here, as they build out their blogs with posts.
  • The 30 blog posts per author only included entries with at least 1 Like or Comment.

And quickly, here are the links to the blogs used in the analysis:

What do you think? Does the Likes/Comments Ratio make sense as a blog style indicator?

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See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22What%E2%80%99s+Your+Blogging+Style%3F+Use+FriendFeed+Likes%2FComments+Ratio+to+Find+Out%22&public=1

Smart Workers Will Figure This Out: Social Media = Career Advancement

Do you think you’ve got more to contribute to your organization than you’ve had a chance to show? I’ll bet you do too.

There have been a fair number of posts about the adoption rate of web 2.0 inside companies. In my previous work doing enterprise 2.0 product marketing for BEA Systems, I can confirm a growing interest out in the corporate world.

But interest from the higher-ups is one thing. What makes the employees actually want to wiki/blog/tag/comment/tweet?

I came across this comment on an old Nick Carr post, Web 2.0’s Numbskull Factor:

Successful adoption [of web 2.0 inside companies] is likely to be driven by the usual three support cycles involved in effective change: achieving personal benefits from using them, seeing peers achieving the same benefits and continuous management support over the 24-36 months required to embed them in business as usual.

Graham Hill, PriceWaterhouseCoopers

Graham’s three elements are spot on. In this post, I want to discuss the first two cycles he discusses. The third cycle is for another post.

Personal Benefits Come in Two Flavors

In a company setting, personal benefits mean one thing:

How will it improve my career?

I know that’s a bit crass. But I think it speaks to what energizes us to work. You want recognition that you can “bring it”.

Two ways such an outcome occurs with social media/web 2.0:

  1. Makes me better at my job and strengthens relationships with colleagues
  2. Others with the power to advance my career start to form a good impression of me

In terms of improving your work, web 2.0 apps offer a variety of benefits. That’s actually going to be future post.

The second benefit is one of reputation. I think all us who work in big companies know that reputations are vital to career advancement. You form impressions of others, which frames your view of their work. And most assuredly, others form impressions of you.

In the typical work environment, you interact with others via email, phone, team meeting. Contributions are made, but not recorded. Knowledge of your effort is silo’d and much of the good stuff we do is invisible.

Social media changes the game. As projects run through wikis, a permanent record of your contributions is created. Your comments are visible and searchable, greatly increasing their value relative to verbal contributions or email. A blog post with a good idea is accessible everywhere, at any time. It also can be shown as the spark for that killer product the company introduced. Your tagging of internal data is like Louis Gray sharing posts from Google Reader. People love your tags.

You also get to step outside of your assigned duties, and weigh in on the big issues facing the company. Always felt like you’ve got a good bead on areas the company needs to address? But your manager and peers aren’t really interested? Blog about it. Tweet about it. Comment about it. Establish your cred. If your thinking pans out, you’ve got a basis for demonstrating your contributions.

The other thing is this. Your contributions via social media need to help others. As you offer insight, decisions and ideas, others will find value in your contributions. Well beyond the normal four walls of that cubicle you’re sitting in. You can build relationships with geographies, business units and departments that are not normally in your work sphere.

To recap the benefits of social media for you:

  • Work better
  • Get beyond relying only on the annual review, create an electronic trail of your work
  • Show you can contribute to larger issues affecting the company
  • Establish relationships with people outside your daily social circle
  • Build – better yet, control – your internal reputation

Peers Getting the Benefits

This one is pretty basic. You know those mass internal emails calling out an individual or team for doing something really outstanding? Don’t you love those?

Well, social media will have some of that. You’ll be on the company portal or wiki, and you’ll see a complimentary message for someone’s work on it. If it’s anything like what I see on FriendFeed or Twitter, there will be several of these messages. A great way to give the “atta boy” or “atta girl” to someone’s work.

And everyone else seeing these complimentary messages will start to get the hint. My colleagues are starting to have an impact. I’d better participate.

Final Thoughts

Workers already have a host of channels with which to establish their reputation: project teams, emails, meetings, water cooler. For some, adding web 2.0 apps is just another thing they have to worry about.

Smart employees are going to see things differently. These tools offer the chance to better contribute, to get a better read on the pulse of the company and to better control one’s reputation. A chance to change the rules for career advancement.

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If you want an easy way to stay on top of Enterprise 2.0, I invite you to join the Enterprise 2.0 Room on FriendFeed. The room takes feeds for Enterprise 2.0-related items on Twitter, Del.icio.us and SlideShare. To see this room, click here: http://friendfeed.com/rooms/enterprise-2-0

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See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Smart+Workers+Will+Figure+This+Out%3A+Social+Media+%3D+Career+Advancement%22&public=1

How Many of Us Find Our True Talent?

Throughout my life, a recurring question has occurred to me: “Am I doing the thing that I’d be best at?” By that, I mean are there talents that lay dormant inside us because we never got to exercise them?

Yeah, I’m waxing a little philosophical.

I look at Tiger Woods. Imagine if his father Earl Woods hadn’t gotten him hooked on golf at a young age. And seen the child prodigy with a sweet swing at the age of 3. Suppose his path had been different. Maybe he goes to law school. Would he be some world class lawyer? Maybe. But I expect he’d be more like a great lawyer in a sea of great lawyers. As opposed to the standout golfer he is.

I look at Sergey Brin. Founded and has grown Google. Wow. Suppose he had decided to practice medicine instead?

Donald Trump…instead of real estate, maybe he’d be a golf pro at the local club.

Al Gore could have been a hell of an accountant…

My own theory is that each of have talents that are uniquely strong in us. For some, these talents would put them on the world stage. For most of us, they’d probably vault us to the top of a particular field. And yet I suspect that most of us never hit on those unique talents.

Why?

  • Too quick to focus on something at a young age, never trying out other areas
  • No opportunities to surface and develop the hidden talent
  • Practical realities – kids, mortgage, caring for someone who is ill – prevent a move into a different field

Some hypothetical examples: You’re a solid IT manager in your company. But it turns out you have a hidden talent for making exquisite furniture. You’re a consultant to Fortune 500 companies. But you have an unknown talent for designing scalable architectures. You’re the financial controller for your company. But you would have been an amazing, Gretzky-like hockey player.

As I go through my own career, I do wonder about this idea. But even more important to me is thinking about my two kids (4 years old, 19 months old). First priority is their happiness. But if I could help them in figure out the things they are really good at, might they be even happier?

What do you think? Most of us find our “highest and best use”? Or are there opportunities most of us are never aware of?

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See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22How+Many+of+Us+Find+Our+True+Talent%22&public=1

Investment as Signal: Bezos Funding Twitter Is a Green Light

Twitter announced today that it picked up more funding, which I first heard through Marshall Kirkpatrick’s tweet. He has a nice post up on ReadWriteWeb.

Investments provide three benefits:

  1. Cash
  2. Signal the broader market about the company’s prospects
  3. The investor provides advice, ideas and introductions

Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, is one of the investors. His investment hits all three benefits listed above.

Let’s look at what Bezos has done while at Amazon.com:

  • Established the preeminent brand for online retail
  • Built a platform for small merchants to sell on
  • Integrated user ratings as a key element of the sales process
  • Pioneered affiliate marketing
  • Developed Amazon’s highly successful recommendation engine (35% of sales)
  • Created a vibrant cloud services offering
  • Gambled on Kindle, which is showing some promise despite skepticism

Clearly, the guy has a good eye for things that can be successful.

Now he’s put his own money into Twitter.

What are the two biggest things Twitter needs?

  1. Reliable, scalable architecture
  2. Monetization strategy

Amazon.com processes how many transactions per hour? I imagine the number is huge. Amazon Web Services are all about scalability, with the need to process millions of transactions reliably. If you can’t scalability master Google or its executives to invest in you, I’d say having the founder of Amazon.com qualifies as the next best choice.

Monetization is the other question for Twitter. Amazon has had success in its affiliate marketing (relevance drives the clicks, distributed advertising program), its recommendations (35% of sales, driven by relevance) and in its fee-based Amazon Web Services. Ads, incremental revenue, web services fees. You think in that mix there is a solid revenue model for Twitter? I’d bet on it.

I really like this investment by Bezos in Twitter. Good for Twitter, and I hope it portends success for them in the months ahead.

*****

See this item on FriendFeed: http://friendfeed.com/search?q=%22Investment+as+Signal%3A+Bezos+Funding+Twitter+Is+a+Green+Light%22&public=1

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